Space is proving to be a challenge as Americans try to prepare for the worst. As the Covid-19 pandemic proved, our food supply is vulnerable and we need creative solutions to be self-sufficient. But for apartment-dwellers and the tens of millions of people living in large cities with no yard space at all, how can they grow their own food?
City Prepping created a comprehensive video on how to turn your apartment into a micro-farm. While you can never be completely independent in such a small space, you can supplement your main food sources in a big way. There are more options than ever to maximize a small space, and fresh vegetables and herbs can help to stave off health problems and provide a major psychological boost. As we prepare for a second spike of Covid-19 cases, now is the time to begin your garden, no matter how big or small it is.
Depending on your specific situation, you may have more space available to you than you thought. Options for apartment gardens include:
- Grow Walls
- Hanging Plants
- Hydroponic Gardens
- Rooftop Gardens
- Grow Tents
- Exterior Window Boxes
Your building may not allow you to use the rooftop or exterior grow boxes, but it’s best to ask and find out for sure. As you plan how to use the space you do have, consider your options for sunlight and air circulation. If you are using more inside space with a grow light and a fan, keep in mind that this will not be sustainable in a grid-down situation.
Plan to grow extremely nutrient-dense plants in the space that you do have to get the best return on your investment. High-calorie survival foods need more space to grow than an apartment will allow, so focus on vitamins and minerals.
Your balcony is of course your best option, and if you utilize all of the space available to you, you might be surprised how much you can grow. A trellis wall can support legumes, squash, and cucumbers. Tomatoes grow well as hanging plants. And using large pots or buckets can give you a good place to grow sweet potatoes, artichokes, and celery. Herbs don’t take up much space at all, are easy to grow, and add flavor to food.
Light, Air, & Water
Consider the locations you have for growing, and their exposure to light and air. You can choose plants that are better suited for the shade, or supplement light by using a mirror or grow light. Air circulation is important, so using a fan inside will help make that space viable for growth.
Don’t forget to water your plants! Smaller plants will need more frequent watering than large ones. Even plants grown outside will need watering, as droughts are common.
Which Plants to Grow
You won’t be able to grow enough food to survive on, especially since vegetables themselves have very few calories. Beans and yams have the highest calorie count, but you would need a lot of space to grow enough to survive on. Focusing on nutrient dense veggies will help to supplement your food reserves – examples would be kale and green onions.
Plants with medicinal properties like dandelions, chamomile, lavender, and peppermint will be helpful as you decrease your reliance on medical services.
Sprouts and microgreens can create a harvest for you within a week! They are full of nutrients even in small servings.
Tomatoes are a great choice, as they are full of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.
You can also regrow many plants from pieces that you have on-hand, including green onions, garlic, and lettuce. This eliminates the need to buy seeds or sprouts.
Again, apartment living will not allow for a self-sustaining farm. But even a low yield will provide you with valuable nutrients. You can also harvest, dry, and store seeds from your plants for future use, which will contribute to your self-reliance. If you ever have to evacuate your apartment for a safer place, you can grab your stored seeds and start a proper farm.
Start your apartment garden now, not later. Build your skills and learn recipes that use your harvests. Start to experiment with pickling and food preservation. There are great physical and mental benefits that come from growing plants, in addition to the vitamins and minerals you’ll be ingesting.